Concerns with the deal designed to curb with the Islamic Republic's nuclear program have centered around the long-term dangers of the agreement. Aside from technical and oversight issues, the key focus has been on whether to suspend or terminate the crippling sanctions that brought the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table. But what about the immediate impact of lifting sanctions on Tehran? Rarely mentioned is the P5+1 group's plan to unfreeze more than $150 billion of Iran's restricted foreign assets as a first step toward sanctions relief. The intended move was revealed a few weeks ago by a European source close to P5+1 diplomats involved in the negotiations. BBC Farsi published a telling statement by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on March 28: "If there is an agreement, it is possible that the president would use his powers to temporarily lift some of the sanctions so that if Iran fails in the verification process,we could reimpose the sanctions swiftly." Officials sounded a like note to the Associated Press on March 19: "A draft nuclear accord now being negotiated between the United States and Iran would force Iran to cut hardware it would use to make an atomic bomb by about 40 percent for at least a decade, while offering the Iranians immediate relief from sanctions that have crippled the economy."
The Islamic Republic lacks access to billions of dollars of oil revenues due to financial sanctions imposed over its nuclear activities. According to the official report from the U.S. State Department, these frozen funds exceeded $100 billion dollars between January 2013 and January 2014. "Those assets have actually increased over the course of the Joint Plan of Action as the oil revenues that Iran has been earning have been poured into these restricted accounts," a senior administration official said in July 2014. It is reasonable to estimate that today an amount exceeding $150 billion sits in these restricted accounts.
On Feb. 19, Iranian state media outlet IRNA published the statements of Iran's presidential spokesman. "The 11th administration began when the golden era of more than $100 billion oil revenue was over, the massive revenue was gone and instead the circle of economic blockade surrounded the government," the spokesman said. He added that the government of President Hassan Rouhani has to run the country on a $17 billion budget.
Even with the state treasuries admittedly empty, the regime finds the means to fund terrorism in the region and around the world. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's evil empire is now financially overextended as it feeds destabilizing forces from the Houthi militants in Yemen to Lebanese Hezbollah operatives worldwide - not to mention Hamas in Gaza, and the Quds Force-led terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Once the Islamist regime regains access to such an excess of forbidden funds, it would not have to worry about future sanctions - these could take years to impose and longer still to be effective. Meanwhile, Iran can effortlessly move its nuclear program and its sponsorship of terror to a new phase. Rouhani's scheming, duplicitous diplomats have planned this all along, and they found an ear willing to listen in the Obama administration.
The Islamic Republic's interventions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, and its destructive role in intensifying sectarian divisions, have increased despite a domestic financial crisis. The flow of $150 billion into the regime's coffers would make Rouhani's government the richest in Iranian history. But make no mistake. The Islamic Republic will only be emboldened to continue along the same path it has followed for the past 36 years, and to intensify its cross-border activities to support its regional ambitions. In a meeting with the members of the Assembly of Experts on March 16, Khamenei declared: "Today, we often hear from arrogant powers and opponents of Islamic establishment, particularly the Islamic Republic, that they seek behavior change, claiming that they no longer want regime change. But a change in behavior is no different from regime change. They are the same. Changing behavior means you should give up your efforts for an objective." And we have all painfully witnessed these efforts in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.
Despite its smile diplomacy, the Islamic Republic remains a rogue regime that must be reined in through tough negotiations. While regime apologists have tried to convey that only Israel opposes the generous concessions that the Obama administration has been pushing relentlessly over the course of the nuclear negotiations, the events in Yemen tell a different story. Saudi Arabia has been joined by Bahrain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Sudan, Qatar, Egypt, and Turkey in an unprecedented coalition to launch airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. They are all aware that the imminent bad deal has emboldened the Islamic Republic to act with impunity in the region, and that they can no longer rely on U.S. security guarantees. As remarked by Rep. Darell Issa (R-Calif.), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "The continued easement or outright removal of sanctions against this rogue state will only further embolden Iran and facilitate its belligerent behavior. We must make it clear that we will support our allies ad punish our enemies through steadfast resolve and decisive action."